Plettenberg Bay

Mar – Sept

Volunteer World International in conjunction with the O.R.C.A Foundation (Ocean Research Conservation South Africa) are proud to offer our volunteers the once in a lifetime opportunity to view some of the worlds most amazing marine species and learn about their lives and behaviour whilst assisting and getting hands on experience of genuine marine conservation and research.

Set in the stunning seaside town of Plettenberg Bay (Plett to the locals!), the ORCA Foundation Volunteer Program in conjunction with VWI provides one of the most idyllic locations anywhere for a volunteer visit – volunteers will find themselves surrounded by pure, unspoiled golden beaches, large indigenous forests, beautiful estuarine rivers and a dramatic rocky peninsula – all rounded off by stunning views over the Indian Ocean right at the heart of South Africas world famous Garden Route!

Eco-tourism provides huge benefit to the region and Plettenberg Bay in particular with the ORCA Foundation contributing significantly to this, be it through the programs community upliftment, research undertaken enhancing various aspects of the bay or even just the the promotion and development of the eco-tourism concept – ORCA in conjunction with Ocean Blue Adventures were awarded runner up place in the Fair Trade “Excellence in Environmental Stewardship” in 2012 providing further validation for the importance of their ongoing work.

The location though is not the only attraction!  All visitors to this fantastic program will enjoy a hugely engaging and varied range of daily activities (read our ‘Project Details’ tab for full info!), taking to the sea regularly (weather dependent) on both boats and sea kayaks to view the amazing array of marine species frequenting the local waters such as Great White Sharks, South Right Whales, Orca (or Killer) Whales, Humpback Whales and various species of dolphin, penguin and seals – everyday has the potential to present a new siting or experience and all under the experienced and knowledgable staff at the ORCA Foundation.

Working in conjunction with the Centre for Dolphin Studies and Ocean Blue Adventures, the Volunteer World International / ORCA Foundation volunteer program represents a genuine once in a lifetime opportunity for anyone with a passion for the preservation and conservation of our marine coastal systems to volunteer and make a real difference in one of the worlds premier locations for viewing of many of the local species – spaces are very limited so book early to ensure availability!


Volunteering at the ORCA Foundation is a must for anyone with a passion for marine conservation and wildlife – from viewing a variety of whale species so closely you can almost reach out and touch them to getting hands on with the land based programs the ORCA Foundation are involved with – the experiences available to volunteers here are mind-blowing!

Below are just a few of the many highlights volunteers with VWI to the ORCA Foundation Program may have the privilege of being a part of:

  • Enjoy the duration of your stay at the ORCA Foundation in stunning Plettenberg Bay, a beach lovers paradise and the jewel of South Africas famous Garden Route.
  • Get up close to a wide variety of marine species including whales, dolphins and penguins!
  • Play your part in assisting with the ongoing research work undertaken at the ORCA Foundation
  • Interact with local children during the regular school visits organised as part of the programs community outreach initiative
  • For longer stays (4 weeks +), take the additional option and become a qualified ‘Marine Guide’!

Volunteering with the ORCA Foundation will see you become involved daily in a wide variety of rewarding activities in both marine and terrestrial conservation practices – all set in one of South Africa’s most scenic locations, truly, an opportunity not to be missed!

Volunteers with VWI to the ORCA Foundation Volunteer Program are guaranteed an informative and engaging stay in Plettenberg bay full of rewarding and fulfilling activities in perhaps the most amazing outdoor classroom in South Africa.  Volunteers daily activities are structured to support the projects long term conservation plans and goals to manage this hugely diverse coastal zone in a sustainable manner and thus allowing you to actively participate in conserving the marine and community life of the region for future generations.

From your arrival, the experienced team at ORCA will help settle you into the program and provide ongoing guidance and mentorship during your stay. If required, and the duration of your stay allows, volunteers will have the opportunity to take on individual projects or simply integrate with the team in their day to day operations.  From assisting ORCAs research teams to helping with the community outreach programme, there are many ways in which volunteers become an important part of the Foundations ongoing work.

Volunteers may become involved in any of the below activities though please note that especially the ocean based experiences, these are weather dependent and safety will always come first!

  • Participating in community development and education programmes in local disadvantaged communities (e.g. Qolweni Pre-School).
  • Organizing and presenting at provincial/national marine and coastal awareness campaigns (such as National Environment Week, National Marine Week, and Youth Day) when they occur.
  • Experiencing and assisting in amazing marine eco-tourism with Ocean Blue Adventures (whale and dolphin watching).
  • Monitoring and beach cleaning campaigns – a hugely important conservation practice!
  • Maintaining, cleaning and collecting food for O.R.C.A.’s aquarium species – used for education and conservation purposes.
  • Sampling, tagging, and monitoring of local fish species.
  • Fin profiling and spatial distribution programs for various local species.
  • Assisting with O.R.C.A.’s carbon reduction program and removal of alien plant species within the locality (volunteers at ORCA have visited Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness Centre (another of VWIs volunteer programs) to assist with clearing of alien plants).
  • Enjoying educational presentations on conservation and ecological topics.
  • Assisting with the rehabilitation of marine animals found stranded on the beaches – volunteers can also opt to participate in ‘The Marine Strandings Course’ – an introduction to first aid for marine animals.

Volunteers staying for a minimum of 4 weeks may also partake in the ‘Marine Guiding Course’ to become qualified as a local marine guide or the ‘Competent Crew Course’ teaching volunteers basic boat skills, safety at sea, radio work etc – let us know if these are of interest to you when you book.

Volunteer placements, due to the requirements of the foundation and weather are constantly changing and varied which all volunteers should be aware of!  Bad weather can and unfortunately occasionally does delay our conservation and research activities which may result in some indoor activities and courses being substituted though of course, ORCA Foundation do their level best to get the boats into the ocean as much as possible. Whatever the weather though, we guarantee you will never have the opportunity to be bored!

This program is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity for anyone with a passion for marine conservation to volunteer and be assured their efforts are making a real difference in one of the most picturesque areas of South Africa – to ensure the focus and intimacy of the program, places are limited so book early to avoid disappointment!

If ever there was a perfect location for a volunteer program to be based, it would be difficult to find any better than Plettenberg Bay!

The jewel of South Africa’s famous Garden Route and a beach lovers paradise, Plettenberg Bay is a truly stunning town and location to spend your stay.  Surrounded by a variety of game reserves, endless sandy beaches and situated at the heart of our world famous ‘Garden Route’, even in your free time, you will never be at a loss for something to do or have any excuse to be bored!  Local amenities such as cinemas, shopping malls, restaurants and bars are also in easy reach and within walking distance of your accommodation making this a truly perfect spot for anyone wanting to experience the very best that South Africa has to offer.

The location of the Volunteer World International/ORCA Foundation Volunteer Program in Plettenberg Bay provides a mind blowing list of opportunities for our volunteers in their freetime and you may choose to involve yourself in any of the following:

  • Horseback safaris
  • Visit Tenikwa Wildlife Rehabilitation and Awareness Centre to get hands on with the resident Cheetah or other lesser cats of South Africa
  • Golf
  • Deepsea fishing
  • Scuba Diving
  • Surfing
  • Game drives and safaris
  • Bungee jumping (the highest jump site in the world at Tsitsikama is just a short drive away!)
  • Skydiving

Of course, many of our volunteers will choose to simply sit back and relax on the beautiful beaches in the area overlooking the Indian Ocean while maybe taking a cold beer in one of the many stunning beach side restaurants (ask your coordinator on site or ourselves for recommendations!) – it really is up to you to do as little or as much as you want to!  In a genuinely stunning part of South Africa, opportunities are abundant to add to your stay and we 100% guarantee you will never need to be bored both on the project or in your free time!

Whats Included

  • Accommodation at ORCA House in shared bedrooms (located near the beach and within easy reach of local shopping malls, cinema, bars and restaurants)
  • Meals (6 nights a week) though volunteers may need to pack a lunch for certain activities – this will be advised in good time prior to the need arising.
  • Dedicated and experienced coordinator throughout your stay
  • All activities at the project

Not Included

  • Flights/Visas
  • * Airport transfers (these can be arranged if required from George Domestic Airport for approx R500 each way)
  • Alcoholic beverages and evening/weekend entertainment
  • Medical insurance (we strongly recommend taking out private medical insurance)
  • Monthly stipend

*Why do we not include airport transfers in our pricing?  Through experience, we know many of our volunteers wish to travel South Africa before/after their programs so including costs for transfers in the pricing would represent wasted funds should this be the case.  By not including a cost for airport transfers and offering this separately, we strongly believe we offer our volunteers the maximum choice and transparency over pricing.

Volunteers to the ORCA Foundation must ensure that arrival is made to the project for the Sunday prior to your project start date the following day (Monday).  Volunteers may arrive to Plettenberg Bay from where a free pick up will be provided or to George Airport from where VWI will organise transfers direct to the project if required – just let us know your flight details as soon as possible in advance!  Flights are available to George from Cape Town and Johannesburg or travel may be made by road from Cape Town (approx 600kms but well worth the drive!) – we highly recommend the Bazbus service as a cost effective option!

Note: VWI uses Paypal to issue all our invoices – should you require a quotation in a currency not listed above, please contact us detailing your requirements!


FROM £545